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Water officials: We have plenty of money for Detroit water aid

Aug 18, 2016

A program meant to help struggling Detroiters pay their water bills is accepting more applicants now.

There had been some confusion about how much money was in the pot for the Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP).

The Wayne Metro Community Action Agency, which runs the WRAP for the Great Lakes Water Authority, said just this week that it wasn’t accepting new clients because it had already committed all its funding for the year.

But more money is in the pipeline, apparently. The Great Lakes Water Authority committed $1.3 million to WRAP in July, CEO Sue McCormick said.

And now Detroit Water and Sewerage Department director Gary Brown says DWSD will kick in another $1 million.

“This fund is not running dry. We have the cash on hand to be able to accommodate the needs of the customers,” Brown said.

The cause of the apparent funding confusion still isn’t entirely clear. But Wayne Metro CEO Louis Piszker admits the agency has struggled to keep up with the demand for aid, and how to allocate the funds among customers.

That’s because the WRAP program helps delinquent water customers pay off their arrears, but only after they pay their current bills in full for at least six months. 

“We didn’t want to get ahead of ourselves, and now we are re-enrolling, or taking new applications or new appointments currently,” Piszker said.

Piszker said any potential WRAP customers who had been turned away in recent weeks should reapply now.

WRAP serves customers throughout southeast Michigan, and underutilized funds from other communities could be reallocated to meet needs in Detroit, Brown said.

Currently, WRAP has enrolled about 3,000 households. 2,500 of them are in Detroit.